Cops watch as blasts convict escapes... again!

'93 blasts convict, who is wanted for attempt to murder, escaped after appearing at Sewri court, even as 15 policemen stood guard; had escaped from Thane Sessions Court earlier this month.

In a span of 12 days, 1993 bomb blasts convict Mohammad Ehtesham Shaikh, wanted by the police for attempting to kill a Mumbra-based builder, made his second escape right from under the nose of dozens of policemen.

Ehtesham Shaikh

On Monday, Shaikh appeared before the Sewri fast track court for the hearing of another attempt to murder case registered against him at JJ Marg police station, where he is wanted for stabbing a Mazgaon resident, Ashraf Mansoor Khan.

Recalling Ehtesham's escape from the court, Ashraf said, "It is a mockery of the system. Such a hardcore criminal fled right in front of 15 policemen posted outside the court. I made at least 50 calls to all the officers in Thane and Mumbai, and sent an SMS to the Mumbai police commissioner, but not a single effort was made to arrest him. After almost four hours of constant calling, a team from Mumbra police station arrived, but the accused had fled by then."

Ashraf Khan

In 2007, Ehtesham, who participated in the Shekhadi landing and transportation of arms and ammunition, was released after 10 years of rigorous imprisonment in 1993 bomb blasts case. After finishing his sentence as an undertrial, Shaikh was booked in at least four cases in Mumbai and Thane, and declared wanted in one after he escaped from the Thane Sessions Court on December 14 when the court ordered the cops to arrest him.

Ashraf added, "There was a convoy of 15 policemen stationed inside and outside the court premises. The accused passed calmly through all of them. As soon as he reached out of the court premises, he ran towards a motorcycle parked at a distance and sped off."

MiD DAY report on December 16

Late arrival
According to Ashraf, he made the first call around 11.15 am to the investigating officer of the case, Assistant Police Inspector SK Machre of Mumbra police station, who said he was sending a team. At 11.37 am, Ashraf made a second call to the local police station and got a similar response.

After almost an hour, when there was no effort made to arrest the accused, Ashraf dialled 100. The response was the same. Every officer who attended to Ashraf's call hung up after promising to send a team. After waiting for an hour and a half, Ashraf sent an SMS to the police commissioner's helpline number. 

"I made more than 50 calls but like a typical scene out of Bollywood movie, a team from Mumbra police station reached the Sewri court after 20 minutes of Ehtesham's escape. The team sent by the local police station as well as the one from the Mumbra police recorded my statement just to show some paperwork," Ashraf added.

The other side
Assistant Police Inspector SK Machre who is investigating the case registered in Mumbra police station said, "I was on some other duty on Monday, but I had informed the local police station (RAK Marg) to detain the accused till our team arrived at the court. But they did not respond. I had even informed my senior police inspector about Ehtesham's presence in court. When our team reached, the accused had
already fled."

Assistant Sub-Inspector Namdeo Rokde, who went to the court, said, "As we reached the court premises, we saw that the accused had fled, and we intimated the Mumbra police where he is wanted. We waited outside the court for a few hours and then left, as our superior told us that a team from Mumbra police is reaching the court."

Additional commissioner of police Vineet Agarwal of central region said, "I don't know about these allegations. I will find out."

Past charges
Ehtesham was first arrested in April 1993 after the serial bomb blasts that killed 257 people. In 1999, he was granted bail by a Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) court. In 2001, he was booked for attempts to murder and under the Arms act at the Agripada and Pydhonie police stations. As the criminal cases piled up against him, he was charged with the Maharashtra Prevention of Disruptive Activities (MPDA) Act.

After his arrest, the TADA court cancelled his bail application.  Five years later, in 2006, Ehtesham jumped bail again. But in 2007, the TADA court ordered all the 1993 blasts accused to be present before the court and Ehtesham had to report to Arthur Road prison. The same year, the court announced its verdict in the case and Ehtesham, who had served 10 years in imprisonment already as an undertrial, was released from jail.

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